Yet another Broadway competitor . . .

Broadway used to own Times Square.  Back in the day, if you wanted live entertainment (other than a few seedy strip clubs or the crazy homeless guy on the corner of 47th that talked about his feet), Broadway was it.

It ain’t that way any more.  We’ve got stand-up comedy shows, the Best Buy concert venue, B.B. King’s, The Ride (half bus tour/half show), not to mention Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, Madame Tussauds, about 37 movie screens, and my favorite new theatrical experience . . . standing on the steps and watching people walk by.  And that ain’t no joke.  That’s a thing that tourists do now.  And psssst, it’s free (until the city finds a way to slap a facility fee on it).

And a few weeks ago, I did a Sunday Giveaway for The Avengers at the Discovery Times Square Museum.

While I was typing up that giveaway I noticed phrases like “completely immersive experience” in the description, then I noticed that the ticket prices were $27.

And then I remembered that this wasn’t the first brand-name attraction of this type.  I have always thought of the museum as a one-off, but, no, they are here and here to stay.  There have been attractions for the Titanic, King Tut, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and a whole host of others.

And you know what?  They all sound fun to me.

And if they sound fun to me, you can bet your bottom dollar that they sound fun to tourists walking through Times Square wondering how they are going to spend their afternoon (and their bottom dollar).

Often at ad meetings, Producers talk about the competition . . . thinking they just have to worry about the shows in the theater next door.

In 2015, there are all sorts of shows in theaters, on streets, and even in basements now called Museums in Times Square.

And they are after our business.  #GauntletThrown


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  • R.J. Lowe says:

    which is yet ANOTHER reason more shows should start varying their matinees days. Over Valentine weekend when I was in the city I went to see Phantom. Why? I’d seen it a million times on Broadway and on tour. I saw it because I had my Thursday afternoon free and it was literally the only Broadway show with a matinee that day!!! Had I had other options I would’ve chosen something new!

    • Randi says:

      Agreed! It’s mind-boggling that on the West End you can see a matinee any day of the week (and thus see many many more shows when visiting) but on Broadway you pretty much have Wednesday & Saturday. Such a waste!

    • Walt Frasier says:

      I think Annie had an extra matinee day too. At least during the summer. You know, tourists that are not “theater” people show up every day at 10am at TKTS. “What do you mean there are no shows this afternoon?” If 1-2 shows ran a matinee every day they would sell. Old folks could leave Long Island more than just one day/week. A bet B&T traffic would be better on Wednesdays too!

  • Walt Frasier says:

    Before I was a local / transplant, I traveled to NYC every 6-8 weeks. I was a wannabe Opera Singer at the time. I stayed at my Uncle’s Union Square studio for free. But dropped over $1000 in three days – mostly on shows and meals (young tenor has to have a bottle of wine with every meal, right?). And that was a time when you could get TKTS <$50 for decent Broadway seats. Front Row mezz to Saigon. Orchestra to Crazy for You. etc etc etc

    But I was by myself. And that was 15-20 years ago. How much does a family of four spend to come to NYC and see ONE show. I saw Spider Man via RUSH TICKETS – still over priced at $30-40 – because I asked. The family ahead of me, sat right beside me and paid $150+ each. For $600 the family could have done 10-12 hours at Disney and have less snow and ice.

    Most folks splurge on one show. But how many see more than one these days. I would be curious how those stats add up. If not with a Theater Group / Student Bus tour with dirt cheap balcony seating (a better source of cheap tickets than lotteries this time of year) the cost is too much. I cannot justify TKTS rates for shows. Thank goodness for industry contacts and their sick discounts during previews or I would not have seen a show in 10 years.

    The tourist can say "I saw PHANTOM. Check BROADWAY of the list." Than get roped into amateur comedy show for $5-10 by street urchins that lie about line ups and drink minimums – or worse a murder mystery.

  • mike mcclernon says:

    And to add to the theatrical competition, Cirque de Soleil is looking to sit down in a Broadway theater. There are only so many dollars spent each week in the 43 or so legitimate theaters in Midtown, and as Ken points out there is already meaningful competition from other entertainment venues. The troupes from Cirque are very popular, and if they do 600-800K or so a week that’s going to impact both family shows and revival (well known) type musicals. It’s not exactly a zero sum game relative to overall Broadway revenue, but over time it’s something close to zero sum.

    • Walt Frasier says:

      On that same note, i was thinking about Billy Joel’s “run” at MSG. How long before Times Square has a Celine Dion or other Vegas style show? WORSE How long before Broadway Shows are cut down to Vegas/Cruise Ship 90-minute shows. You could run a mini Mamma Mia 4 shows/day and sell out with folks that do not speak English.

  • Steven Conners says:

    Yes, they get some of your dollars, but not your “business”. Broadway shows are not for all and with the high prices… There have always been attractions at less than B’Way prices. Remember Huberts Museum and the jazz clubs? Now, again, there’s something for everyone and at prices they can afford. Which leads me to your ‘magic question’ on your podcast. What would I change: Throw out the Hollywood business plan that has made the B’Way shows so costly and only for the elite. Huge above the line costs and theater owners and vendors that are gouging the producers. That’s what drives the ticket price up, and what goes up will come down. Remember $1-$2 tops. That wasn’t so long ago. Could happen again. —sjc

  • Rich Mc says:

    My first Broadway theater-going experiences were as a student attending Staten Island’s Wagner College (today’s top-rated collegiate theater program- Princeton Review) in the late 60’s. I fell in love and began reviewing plays/musicals for the student newspaper. While ticket prices then approached the apex of what an average student could afford, they were considered both monetarily accessible and usually preferable to other area entertainment options. Kindred students today do not have this pricing luxury, as b-Way’s target demographic has become more exclusive and allowably less cost conscious, thus Broadway’s future attendance (as theater-bereft youngsters mature) will predictably suffer.

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